I am crap at remembering dates and anniversaries. However, it is at this time of year when I usually remember that I moved to Brighton somewhere around the end of November.
Walking up St James's Street with my friend Jack last Sunday, we walked past the B&B where we stayed for two weeks when we first arrived here off the train from Victoria, before our flat was ready. Those were good times - there was a telly in our tiny top-floor room; the place was run by the lovely Paul and Sean, who gave us extra breakfast and a motivational speech every morning. I arrived - technically unemployed and homeless - on a Sunday night; by the Monday afternoon I had a job, which I am sure was due to this extra hash brown and enthusiasm.
That was eight years ago. Since then, I have lived in three Brighton flats.
A crazy top-floor flat in a historic building in Market Street, the middle of the south Lanes: where a friend slept on the sofa for over a year; we had cheap pizzas from the restaurant over the road for dinner nearly every night and then had an impromptu street party after we all watched Italy win the World Cup together; the off-licence across the square did a special deal of two bottles of terrible red wine for £5... I wrote my first full-length novel - the one that got me an agent - sitting at that kitchen table at night and smoking a zillion fags.
Then we moved ten minutes' walk up the steep hill to Albert Road in Seven Dials. We rented a ground-floor Victorian flat with a tiny patio from a friend of mine, which was cosy and lovely. I wrote like a maniac in that flat. We became friends with people who lived in our road, and everyone in the amazing local shop. I baked a lot of cakes in that tiny galley kitchen, feeling very grown-up. I still also drank a lot of red wine and smoked a lot of fags on that back patio.
When it was time to move, we didn't want to go too far. We were supposed to stay at Albert Road for a year, and ended up staying for four and a half. So, we moved to Buckingham Road - a new address but technically about seven doors down the road. We were now even closer to our favourite corner shop. We could see the old flat from the new one. This was helped by our vantage point from the high-up third floor; we called that place 'the garret'. It was a lovely flat, with a weird layout and a tiny kitchen that reminded me of Paris. It got really good light and it gave me my first-ever view of the sea, if you stuck your head out of the bedroom window/fire escape. It was a great flat for writing in. However, we heard our downstairs neighbour making weird sex noises pretty much every night just as we were sitting down to dinner.
So... nearly a year ago (in late January) we moved to a tiny little house on the other side of town. The first time I've lived in a house (with stairs, and my own front door!) in over a decade and the first place I have ever 'owned'. I have roots in Brighton now. At the moment, at least, I feel like I hope they carry me out of my house in a box in approximately sixty or so years. Incidentally, my next door neighbours have actually lived in their house for sixty years - isn't that cool?